Ryan: Why the Bruins’ motivated veteran core could give them a major advantage in a postseason rife with uncertainty

(Staff Photo By Matt Stone/ MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)

A full team stretch at center ice might have signaled the end of the Bruins’ regular drills on Tuesday morning, but few left the scuffed sheet of ice at Warrior Arena once Day 2 of Boston's Return To Play Camp was largely in the books. 

Down one end of the ice, players fine-tuned their shots, wristing and rifling pucks into twine. Down the other end, players tipped pucks down near the crease and tried to bury chances against Dan Vladar and Max Legace

But as dozens of NHLers lined up near the blue line on either side of the ice, a smaller party stood resolute near center ice.

For over five minutes, the Bruins’ veteran group of Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci, Brad Marchand and Torey Krug held court together — a meeting of the minds between a group of five skaters that have each played a role in three Stanley Cup Final appearances this decade. 

Given the times we live in, there’s an awful lot to discuss.

If the Bruins are to see this season through and hoist Lord Stanley’s Cup once again, it’s all but a certainty that these five skaters (along with fellow veteran Tuukka Rask) will play a major role in Boston’s conquest. 

“You go back to generations of different players that have done great things for the Bruins — I think those guys are right up there,” Bruce Cassidy said.

But in 2020, the grind that comes with being the first club to claw out 16 postseason victories is far from the only hurdle awaiting the 24 teams heading up to Toronto and Edmonton.

For all the safety measures and health protocols enacted by the NHL and local governments to curtail spread, all it takes is a string of positive tests for COVID-19 to completely scuttle a team’s playoff hopes in short order — or even worse, tank what’s left of this salvaged season.

As such, the onus will fall on the players themselves to take the necessary steps to keep themselves out of harm's way — especially during a two-week stretch in Phase 3 in which players will not be monitored aside from the time they clock in and out of their team facilities for on-ice work.

Whether it be in game situations or during practice, many eyes in Boston's locker room often turn to the likes of Chara, Bergeron and that entire crew — a prudent decision, given the lengthy resume that the Bruins' leaders have etched out for themselves over the years.

Such reverence could come in handy these days, with the sway that Boston's veterans command potentially giving the Bruins a tangible advantage in a postseason set to be poised to be marked by setbacks and sacrifice.